From The Pit To The Mic: Interview with Nick Reese of Joyous Wolf

Photo by Talon Kane Photography
Photo by Talon Kane Photography

I conducted this interview with Nick Reese for DreadMusicReview and received permission to also post it here.

I was overjoyed when I got the opportunity to conduct this interview. Joyous Wolf is a band that is making waves on the concert circuit. When I photographed them at Louder Than Life in 2017, I wasn’t sure what to expect. And what I and the rest of fans got was an amazing set of very talented artists who pull out all the stops to entertain the fans. Joyous Wolf consists of Nick Reese (vocals), Blake Allard (guitar), Greg Braccio (bass), and Robert Sodaro (drums). My interview was with Nick and I knew this was going to be something special.

As I always do, I asked Nick how he would describe Joyous Wolf. He laughed as he said , We are rock from Southern California comprised of four bored suburban black sheep.” When I inquired about the black sheep reference he said that “we’re definitely mixed people and we don’t necessarily fall into the lines”. And coming from Orange County in California he says “where the world knows it for OC Housewives and Laguna Beach” and these guys don’t fit that mold. All of them came from different bands before they got together. Nick told us the story how he met Blake at a Guitar Center and recalls him getting “his Facebook friend request and his phone number and never saw him again until about 6 or 7 months later.” Nick was looking to start something new and he called Blake and they started putting the band together. Nick knew Robert since 6th grade who he reached out to and Blake told Nick he had a friend who was a great bass player, being Greg. “Yeah , heard that before,” Nick continued, “Bass players are like unicorns. Like great bass players.” Though Greg wasn’t the first bass player, the original one left, and Nick was very impressed with Greg’s work so they knew he was their guy.

If you’ve never heard Joyous Wolf their music is definitely unique. It’s a great blend of blues, jazz, and metal. “It was birthed out of the boredom we all sort of faced with the music that we were a part of. I didn’t want to sing in punk bands or alternative bands.” “I was bored. I grew up on old stuff like blues, and jazz, and the original 50s rock and roll. I grew up on that stuff and really love that.” I could hear the passion in his voice when he talked about his love for old-school rock. “We all kind of have a background in old music.” And Nick went on to say “We all kind of built our friendship with each other strictly based on the music we like and we all happened to like similar things.”

Though they have a love for old school music, they’re certainly not mimicking a 50s rock band. “We all like a lot of the same things, but where we differ is where we become a good band. Some of us are inclined to like the real heavy stuff and some of us can like Steve Miller. But, we all like it.” He doesn’t deny the old school music touch saying “We have blues influence for sure.” And then Nick touched wonderfully on a point about some artists who emulate music styles today, “If you want to have an understanding of the music, and I think that’s a big problem with a lot of new bands is that they don’t have an understanding of that root. And you don’t you kind of come off plasticy. I feel if you understand the stuff that matters. All the actual stuff inside that matters within the genre. Like where did metal come from? Where did rock come from? Where did blues come from? Where did R&B come from? Where did jazz come from? Where did old country come from? If you listen to all that you create something that I feel, at least to me, is more substantial”. “Having an understanding of the origin of the music you’re making and incorporating that.” I questioned whether they consider themselves as a blues-rock band and Nick laughed, “No, we’re not. I think we’re blues influenced but we have so many other pockets that we explore that I don’t think it would be fair to other blues-rock bands to call ourselves a blues rock band.”

How Joyous Wolf got themselves into the limelight is the way that the majority of artists trying to breakthrough hope it would happen. “We did the old fashioned way and I can say that with a lot of pride in what we’ve done. We got discovered by being a good live act.” Nick even provided his view on how bands can be discovered, “Spot number 1 you got to be able to get people to make noise when you perform for them. You got to make them get excited about you and as performers, we take that extremely seriously.” “The presence on stage is so important to us. We thrive on being good live performers.” For Nick’s own style on stage, he said “I take a lot of tact from Prince and from James Brown and from Elvis Presley and tons of other guys. I’ll go into that sort of performance art. I like to move. I like the idea because there’s not a whole lot of dancing in hard rock music. How can I make this a little tougher? How can I make a bunch of bearded metal heads clap for a kid doing splits on stage?” It made me laugh because the way Nick speaks with such maturity and wisdom, it’s easy to forget that he’s just 23 years old.

But going back to their discovery, “We played on the Sunset Strip for like two years. Pounded away. We played the Viper Room so often it’s kind of disgusting. We just kept playing. You have to go look for gigs. You’re not going to get invited. You got to play the shitty ones like back lots. You got to play the good ones at the big theaters. But, you have to play it like it’s the big theater every time. We just kept making a reputation for ourselves.” Their “Mountain Man” video was showed off to people, they started to get local radio play, and then getting bigger stations radio play. And then ended up with a management group and a booking agent and found themselves booked on the Sonic Boom festival and then Louder Than Life and Rock Allegiance and they have taken off at full speed.

Side note, when I asked Nick about “Mountain Man”, which he admits is their most recognizable single to date, he said “Mountain Man was written as a joke. We jammed it I think in maybe 25 minutes and we had the majority of what the song was going to be in. We were all laughing because we thought it was dumb,” followed by Nick laughing about it after he said it. “To us, dumb is a good thing.” “I wrote it about some jackass I worked with when I was a barista. There was this total macho, wannabe lumberjack guy, who would go out to the woods on the weekends and come back and talk about how I carved a chair from a tree. I just thought he was such a loser.” And it’s always their first song they open with.

At the time of this interview, they were on tour with Adeltias Way and who Nick called their best friends, Of Limbo. And Nick has no qualms about promoting them saying “They have a record out right now called ‘Nicotine’. Go fucking listen to that record.” They are also touring with Down North who Nick described as “James Brown meets Black Flag.” But, if you really want to see how well this band is doing, at the time of this interview it was already announced Joyous Wolf was booked to Welcome To Rockville, Shiprocked, Northern Invasion, Rock on the Range, Carolina Rebellion, and Las Rageous. And as you can see the majority of those are Danny Wimmer Presents festival. Nick said he met Danny Wimmer and described him as “He’s a wonderful man and I was telling him you’re doing the Lord’s work right now. You’re bringing a lot of great music to a lot of people.”

You can hear Nick is proud of where Joyous Wolf is today. “It’s really been like grassroots and I’m totally proud of that because that’s how a lot of the guys that I love did it and it makes me feel good that people are having such a positive response to what we do.”

The band has an album coming out in 2018 titled ‘Eginma’. Nick describes it as “13 tracks on it. We finished recording it about two years ago.” And he was very mysterious saying “Next year they’ll be some announcements. Some stuff. I can’t really go into it right now.” No official release date at the time of this interview. They did have an EP titled ‘Daisy’ that will also be re-released in 2018. At the time we talked, Joyous Wolf was not signed to a record label and the one out of two (Them Evils being the second) who are on the Danny Wimmer Presents festival circuit. That is one of the most impressive things to me that this band has gotten that much notice.

Nick left us with these final words, “Thank you. If you’re a new listener thank you for tuning in. Because of you guys, we get to do what we get to do. To the people who never heard us before, if you really want to have a kick-ass time, come see us play live it’s like a big party and it’s a big event for us and for the crowd and we involve everybody. Come out and see us play a show. I promise we won’t disappoint you. I promise you’ll leave that place with nothing but good memories.”

If you want to listen to the full 37-minute interview click on the audio link at the top of the article. It’s definitely worth every minute hearing Nick talk about his passion for music and his appreciation for where Joyous Wolf is today and their path for the future.